Unmet Needs for Help With Mobility Limitations Among Older Adults Aging in Place: The Role of Rurality

J Aging Health. 2023 Oct;35(9):623-631. doi: 10.1177/08982643231151777. Epub 2023 Jan 12.


Objectives: This study identifies differences in unmet mobility needs among older adults living in rural versus urban areas.

Methods: We used data from Round 9 of the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), limiting our analyses to respondents who had not moved since baseline (average housing tenure of 27 years; n = 3343). We conducted bivariate and multivariate analyses to detect rural/urban differences in unmet mobility needs, adjusting for socio-demographics, health status, and housing characteristics.

Results: Rural residence was associated with higher odds of any unmet mobility needs for older adults aging in place (adjusted odds ratio: 1.64, 95% confidence interval: 1.10-2.44, p < .05). The relationship between rurality and unmet needs for help with mobility limitations remained significant in fully adjusted models.

Discussion: Rural older adults aging in place have greater unmet needs for help with mobility limitations. This study highlights several important gaps in supporting rural older adults aging in place.

Keywords: aging in place; housing; mobility limitations; rural.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Independent Living*
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Rural Population*